Families Of Fatality Victims Take Action On Dangerous Road - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/17/05-Upshur County

Families Of Fatality Victims Take Action On Dangerous Road

Two East Texas families lobby for change, after three of their loved ones are killed in a car wreck.

The crash happened in may in northern Upshur County on Highway 271 near Tulip Road.

KLTV investigated and found out a number fatalities have occurred in that area. The question now is, will anything be done about this dangerous road?

Four crosses along the highway are reminders of just how dangerous that section is. On May 28, a 2-car accident killed Jeremy Jumper, 18; his friend Devonie Young, 21; and her daughter, Christian, 2. They hydroplaned into an oncoming car, killing Shondel Knepp, 32, from Illinois.

Tx-DOT tells us hydroplaning is common because the road slopes downhill and meets a flat surface, which tends to hold standing water.

"These kids were murdered, in a way," Donald Jumper, Jeremy's father, said.

Jeremy's parents and sister are devastated and angry. So is Devonie's husband, who is Christian's father. At the time, he was in Iraq fighting in the war.

"We all thought we'd hear word that he was the one killed," Jeanene Sweat, Devonie's aunt, said. "You'd never expect that he'd have to come back and bury his only family. A family he ain't seen in five months."

"You know, this should have never happened," Jumper said. "This road's been like this for years and years. And it should've been redone years ago."

Three years ago, another fatality happened at the same location, also due to hydroplaning. And Tx-DOT says, last year, within a 6-week period of time, eight people were killed on a 4-mile stretch of the same highway, including the dangerous intersection. That makes it one of the most dangerous places to drive in Upshur and southern Camp Counties.

"Something needs to be done before somebody else has to bury one of their loved ones," Wanda Bayley, Jeremy's aunt, said.

She has made it her mission to get the road fixed.

Tx-DOT is responding with plans to seal-coat the highway within the next month and make further improvements within the next six to eight weeks.

"This is just something that we get to when we get to," Kenneth Williams, area engineer for the Tx-DOT office in Gilmer, said.

The two families hope they won't have to see any more crosses lining the highway.

Tx-DOT says, even after the road surface is improved, drivers still need to be cautious and slow down in rainy weather.

Julie Tam, reporting. jtam@kltv.com


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